Sunday, January 31, 2010

Go Ahead, Expose Yourself

I’ll admit, I still get anxious when I hit the post, or send, or whatever button shares my words with others. Not so much because I’m afraid of being critiqued -- I love when my stories are shredded in the critique groups I’m in -- but because in everything I write I share a little bit of myself. I expose myself -- my dreams, my fears, my imagination.

The first story I submitted to a contest (and won an honorable mention - woohoo) is still one of my favorites. Many friends asked me how I could write something with such emotion that I’d never experienced. Most of my stories are pure fantasy, 100% imagination (I won’t say where reality slips in, but you can assume my rotting flesh zombie stories … well, I’ll let you figure that one out) but I do draw on my greatest fears at times to bring my stories to life.

Here’s the story I submitted to the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest ( It was also published in Boston Literary Magazine ( in the Summer 2008 edition.

by Catherine Trizzino

She looks like Madeline—cinnamon curls, corkscrew tight, bounce in every direction as she plays, cheeks pink like spring tulips from chasing butterflies, button nose smattered with amber colored freckles. She must be three or four - Madeline's age when she left.

I watch the girl in the vivid pink romper covered with daisies and my heart aches, a feeling I have grown accustomed to, a part of me forever. I think about Maddy with a smile so bright it could warm the coldest winter day and her quirky habit of sucking on the knuckle of her forefinger.

Yesterday was her tenth birthday. I can envision her party, decorations in her favorite colors—pink and lavender, colors of youth and innocence. The lanky bodies of the girls bounce in the music filled room. Oh how Maddy loved music. Even as an infant, her tiny body would wiggle the moment she heard the first note—the sunny sing-song of Barney or the serene melody of Beethoven.

I imagine myself bringing out the Hannah Montana cake, two levels piped with iced ribbons, eleven candles on top—the 'one to grow on' in the center larger than the rest. Leaning to blow out the candles, Maddy holds back her long unruly hair and I think about how she would refuse to ever keep it tied back. My heart fills with joy as the girls giggle, giddy from sugar and togetherness. Their happiness, like bubbles floating through the air, bursts abruptly when I hear a panicked scream—a mother's scream. Instead of looking toward the cry behind me, my eyes instinctively seek out the little girl. In horror I see her on the edge of a small pond, bent over to touch a lone mallard. I reach the water's edge as she is swallowed by the murky brown water—only tiny helpless arms can be seen flailing above the surface. The water hits me at chest level when I run to her—right at the line of my heart. Pulling her out of the merciless water, I immediately try to hush her. "Shush sweetie, Mommy's here—I won't let anything happen to you Maddy."

Hands reach to take Maddy and the emptiness in my arms forces me to realize it wasn't my daughter I held, but the girl covered in pink daisies. Words of thanks choked out between tears tell me I have saved her from the very anguish I have lived with all these years. Can the sin of a mother unable to save her child ever be atoned? By saving this girl so like my precious daughter, can I finally forgive myself for not being there when she drowned in the care of another? I look at the young mother cradling her daughter, the wet curls matted to a face now red from crying and I silently ask for my daughter's forgiveness.

So, if you’re staring at a blank page, think about what scares you most and pour your fears on the page. Whether its reality based or something Twilight Zone-esq., feel free to expose yourself a little -- the results might surprise you.

Have a wonderful day all!



  1. People fear the truth but when you write with it, others can feel the honesty.

  2. So true Tirz. Thanks for popping in! :)

  3. Excellent writing -- and what an idea to draw on our fears. I can draw from reality, but it never occurred to me to write what I most fear. (Surprisingly enough, that simple thought never registered.)

    Appreciate this!

    Great work. Great post.


    from the desk of a writer